Chess Camp keeps kids
in check over holidays
By SUSAN B. KETCHUM
Jan. 5, 2006
Kelvin Liu, 7, left, of Beachwood, and
Isaac Praul, 11, of Newbury watch Danny Andreini, 7, of Shaker
Heights make a move at the Mayfield Village Civic Center. Sun photo
by Susan Ketchum.
During the December break from school, boys usually battle it out
with snowballs or video games.
Last week at Mayfield Village Civic Center, however, the battles
were over knights and pawns, rooks and bishops, queens and kings.
These boys, in kindergarten through fifth grade, were taking part in
the annual Chess Camp by Vivacity Inc.
Victor Belikov, 7½, of Highland Heights was there for the second year.
"Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but it's fun," the Millridge School second-grader said.
The camp was a new experience for Franky Grk, 9, in fourth grade at St. Paschal Baylon School.
"I just started this week, but I like it. I hope to keep on playing," he said.
As in traditional chess matches, the boys played quietly and gave their full concentration to the game. But, unlike the slow, drawn-out plays of chess masters, these games moved quickly.
"Children play faster, but traditional chess has all kinds of different time controls," instructor Aleksandr Kitsis said.
"In this technology age, we need to make decisions faster. Chess helps you learn to make decisions. You have to trust your gut and follow it."
Kitsis said the game helps children perform better in school. Studies have shown playing chess actually increases someone's IQ, and develops reasoning skills.
"Where are your hands?" He whispered to one boy. The child quickly took his hands off the piece.
"They have to learn to make the decision first and act afterward. You can't touch anything, you can't move until after you make a decision. That's a good lesson for anyone in life," Kitsis said.
Danny Andreini, in second grade at Onaway Elementary School in Shaker Heights, started playing at 4½. Now 7, he won his third state championship in his age group last fall.
Kitsis told how two years ago, Danny played in the Tri-State Championship at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. During one match, he had a disagreement on one of his boards.
"His grandfather said he would help him, but Danny said, 'no, that's not your job.' So he called to the tournament director and explained his reasons, and proved he was right. He was only 5½ years old," Kitsis said
During camp, if there was an uneven number of players, Danny would play two games at once.
"This is mental gymnastics," Kitsis said.
Danny couldn't remember what was the least number of moves it took for him to win.
"It was either four or seven," he said.
Fifth-grader Isaac Praul, 11, of Newbury, has been playing for years with his father. He also likes to play Stratego, another game of strategy.
Kelvin Liu, 7, in second grade at Bryden Elementary in Beachwood, has been playing about two years.
"At first I was nervous, then I was excited," he said. "I like winning."
Kitsis, a chess master has been teaching the game for 20 years, for three years in the village. On Sundays, Vivacity offers both chess school and chess club for players of all ages, including adults.
"Chess school is more formal, chess club is more for fun," Kitsis said.
Vivacity also helps sponsor the Vukcevich Super Cup, named for the late grandmaster Milan Vukcevich of Shaker Heights. It begins Jan, 14.
Call (440) 461-3634 or www.vivacityinc.com/chess
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